2006-12-27

quote of the day

While purging old email I found a quote from an anonymous traveller on Sicily in October 2003. Not exactly sure if he was ironic or simply had a bad day but in retrospect it's fun anyhow.
.
Having seven lovely dinner-dates with myself in a week isn't infinitely exciting... :/
others on tristess

2006-12-18

twinkle, oh Christer

Tonight let’s try to keep two distinct thoughts in mind simultaneously.

  • Yes, space exploration is a good thing. It’s being pursued jointly by many countries and I’m old enough to remember when two superpowers raced to the moon without sharing one iota of information.
  • No, the proportions and the level of enthusiasm in mainstream media over this routine flight (just because one of the astronauts happens to be a Swede) is ridiculous. The world needs less nationalism and flag-waving.

others on nationalism rymden forskning media

2006-11-26

reasons to smile today

  • a nice dinner with some special colleagues this week
  • another day without snow and ice on the roads
  • finished the Risk Management course without catching a cold
  • a lovely weekend at the cottage
  • another day with a non-socialist government
  • listening to SR X
  • today’s BC
  • incredibly stupid spam offers constantly arriving
  • a couple of tickets for Ramel à la Carte next weekend
  • being healthy, having time and freedom to blog

2006-11-15

thanks, fellow tax payers!

I study, therefore I am? Well, not exactly but it's certainly time well spent. It’s such a luxury really. A fairly well-paid guy at 45 with a sixteen year old exam chooses to take some additional university courses to enhance his career and the tax payers foot the bill. Tuition fees have been a non-issue in Sweden but this will have to change. I don’t mind being subsidized but I imagine there should be better ways for the state to spend our tax money.

2006-11-01

November in Gothenburg

The pale November sun shines on the quays of Saltholmen.
The water looks distinctly green in this particular light.

2006-10-25

back in school

I’ve always had a complex relationship to schools. As a kid I studied a lot, got top degrees and for a confused moment I actually believed these degrees would open any doors in life until I learnt that – no, son – you’d better get some experience as well. Bummer. The strange thing is that I never enjoyed studying; it was sort of a duty.

As an adult I spent four years at the university, still with good degrees. This time obviously I had a target as I was aiming for a particular exam. But, amazingly, there was still no joy in studying. I was (and I am) interested in my profession but the minute I actually *have* to read a particular book and be done by a particular date it becomes an obligation and booring.

Fifteen years after my exam I sort of returned, this time for some odd courses to be completed while working in parallel. There is no pressure; I’m doing this because I want to. So let’s see. Maybe I’ll finally experience some joy in studying? I’ve always envied those who do.

2006-10-18

time will tell

Our beloved media tend to paint the world in black and white. Unfortunately reality is not quite that simple. Here’s an exercise. I suggest we try to keep the following two thoughts in mind simultaneously.

It is perfectly natural and in fact necessary that ministers who lose their personal credibility resign to stop embarrassing the government and make way for someone who can get the job done.

It is entirely unreasonable after a couple of weeks with this government to draw any political conclusions about the ability of the Alliance. It has delivered beyond expectations ever since it was formed a couple of years ago and I think they’re capable of pursuing their agenda. Reinfeldt and his ministers are fully aware of their unique historic opportunity.

others on reinfeldt svartvitt media politik

2006-10-11

bending the rules

I might be hopelessly naive but I’d like to think that most people are law-abiding citizens. We follow the rules as best we can and with limited resources we manage to administer our lives including paying TV licenses, parking fees, taxes or whatever. So why should we accept and respect leaders who fail to reach even this basic level of citizenship?
others on samhälle politik ledarskap förebild

2006-10-10

the first mistake

The incoming coalition chose to follow tradition and have a new Speaker of the Riksdag elected from the majority. Perfectly legitimate and hardly surprising but still a mistake.

Leaving aside the fact that outgoing speaker Björn von Sydow was widely popular and did a good job as far as anyone can tell the fact remains that this position is really above party politics. The new government has made a point of changing routines for all sorts of appointments in the state. Merits and person should count, party book should not and the process should be open. So, what a great opportunity the Alliance missed here. By agreeing generously to keep a successful speaker from the Social Democrats they would have sent the signal that merits matter. More chances will come but they really blew this one.

2006-10-07

Happy Earth Day, Ralph!

It’s hard to understand that composer Ralph Lundsten turns 70.

I suppose this is what he’d call a Happy Earth Day.

others on musik tidlöst lundsten

2006-10-06

different corner, 23 years later

Sweden’s new foreign minister is Carl Bildt, presentation unnecessary. He is without any doubt the most qualified candidate imaginable. Bildt has had influential contacts in most corners of the world for decades. Such a foreign minister will strengthen Sweden’s voice and restore some of the credibility we’ve lost over the years. Beside star-quality and international fame he brings experience from a long political life and most importantly from three years leading a government during a difficult period.

The main argument against Bildt as foreign minister is that being former Prime Minister and party leader he is simply too strong for a ministerial position, particularly when the PM-elect is a relatively young and unproven man like Reinfeldt. I agree and this is precisely why I didn’t think Bildt would be chosen or – for that matter – that he would accept. Now he is and he has and we’ll have to trust the parties to manage their relations. Second-guessing without really knowing the inner circles won’t do any good.

One interesting observation about Bildt is that after a life in or near Swedish politics he has crossed the stage from one side to the other.

In the early eighties the young opposition politician Bildt infuriated Olof Palme by discussing foreign matters abroad, particularly Swedish-Soviet relations and suspicions of red submarines penetrating our defenses. Palme even took the unprecedented step to have his entire government formally condemn Bildt’s foreign activities. No ambitious politician was allowed to compete with Palme on the international scene and particularly not someone from the Moderate party. Bildt should stay away from foreign matters.

Almost a quarter of a century later Carl Bildt finds himself in a position where we hope that he will concentrate exclusively on foreign matters and stay away from domestic issues where he most likely doesn’t always agree with the new party course of Reinfeldt and where he might create confusion, undermining Reinfeldt’s leadership.

2006-10-03

dancing into opposition

It’s beginning to sink in. Slowly. We’ll have a new government before the end of the week. There’s a lot to be accomplished before the election in 2010. The Alliance has to deliver on their promises. The Social Democrats have to restore their party after years of relying on one dominant person. And our green party Miljöpartiet will have to explain why they're so happy. Their informal coalition was defeated and with 19 seats the party remains the smallest inside the Riksdag. No one really understood what they were celebrating but they kept dancing on Election Night.

2006-10-01

October at Sydkoster

Go West, they say. Well, so I did.
The western corner of Sweden is Kosteröarna in Bohuslän.
Fairly warm, another nice day.
I wonder what it's like here when the autumn storms come rolling in.

2006-09-25

brand-new conservatives?

I’ve had a strange feeling throughout this election campaign and after the Alliance victory. They won, they really won. It was hardly a landslide, 48-46, still they did win. But the price was high. In order to win PM-to-be Reinfeldt abandoned central parts of his party’s policies.

What exactly is a conservative party with a brand-new agenda? Has anyone seen such a thing? Sounds like a contradiction in terms to me.

Don’t get me wrong. Ousting Persson was a necessity before Sweden became a one-party-state. I’m glad the Social Democrats were defeated. But the new majority didn’t offer a shift from the leftist agenda; they merely adopted parts of it. So how can they set a new course without a clear mandate? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, what happens with the conservative electorate Reinfeldt left behind in the process? Those of us who think that big government, monopolistic trade unions and excessive taxation are key problems in Sweden, how should we vote in 2010?

2006-09-22

patriots of the world

This general election established the migration-skeptic party Sverigedemokraterna as the major national contestant still outside our Riksdag. They claim to be the largest national movement in Sweden; many view them as nothing more than xenophobes-dressed-up. The party keeps growing and got almost 3% of the national vote this time which would have been more than enough to secure seats in the Riksdag if it hadn’t been for the 4% limit.

Sweden has been affected by globalization and migration over the recent decades and some of us will always be afraid of the unknown, different languages and cultures. In a fully functional society where there is a job market even for those who cannot speak the local language fluently newcomers can quickly get started making a living on their own. Not so in Sweden where new citizens often become isolated and passive receivers of state welfare support on a long-term or even permanent basis.

With our ailing integration policy Sverigedemokraterna can count on further growth and they may well enter our Riksdag in 2010 so the prospect is not entirely pleasant. Still, there’s no need for panic. If and when more than 4% of Swedes were to share their views they should be represented in the Riksdag and these issues need an open debate. Besides, we’ve had communists in our parliament for decades and our schools don’t seem to prioritize teaching history so what else could be expected?
others on sverigedemokraterna val 2006 integration politik

2006-09-21

a new center of the Solar System

For centuries there was widespread disagreement on whether the rest of the universe revolved around the Earth. I used to think that the heliocentric perspective was sort of established. Well, apparently I missed the Swedish Social Democratic party where many seem to believe that the party headquarter at 68 Sveavägen, Stockholm is the true center of gravity.

The party is looking for a new leader and many are calling for EU Commissioner Margot Wallström expecting her to leave her mission in Brussels and come home to take the lead after Göran Persson. Wallström would certainly be a good candidate for many positions but – excuse me for suggesting this – her current job is vastly more important for the people of Europe than becoming a party chair in Stockholm. I’m amazed that so many people fail to realize what a vital position Wallström holds, being number two in the Commission. She’s doing a great job and would be ill advised to terminate prematurely what she calls her mission irresistible.
others on val 2006 wallström socialdemokraterna eu

2006-09-20

this is it

Back in town again after spending a couple of weeks driving between Höga Kusten, Jämtland and Dalarna I return to a different political landscape. It’s a relief to find our government being ousted. Now it’s make-or-break for the opposition Alliance. For once they actually might have some time in power without having to fight an immediate crisis. And this is the first time they enjoy the opportunity of having four years (rather than three) until the next election. So they’d better deliver. This is their chance.

2006-09-04

old party, old passwords

As a diversion from yesterday’s televised interview with opposition leader Reinfeldt the governing Social Democrats conveniently launched a big hoopla about alleged intrusions into their computer network. A police investigation will start and, again conveniently, this probably won’t come up with any conclusions before Election Day. Good timing.

Obviously, if the investigation would reveal intrusions that would be just as unacceptable as other irregularities during this campaign. They all contribute to undermining our democracy.

The opposition party Folkpartiet is supposed to have directed their campaign using key information from their opponents. One example would be that on August 3 the opposition leaders proclaimed that they would make a joint bus tour at the same day when Prime Minister Persson had announced his own bus tour. How extraordinary! Who has ever heard about politicians traveling before an election? Obviously, this must be a major conspiracy...

One commentator makes confused comparisons with Watergate. Well, for the record, Watergate was about a third-rate burglary and wouldn’t have been remembered at all unless it had been followed by a major cover-up. I wouldn’t compare that with today’s embarrassment and excuses.

One final point from a slightly different perspective. If people in the inner circle of the Social Democratic party are given access to sensitive information it might be a good idea for them to keep it to themselves. Any citizen today is supposed to be able to protect pin codes and similar personal secrets. If you do change your password once in a while you wouldn’t have to shout about someone misusing it for half a year or more.

others on intrång socialdemokraterna password val 2006

2006-09-01

September in Storulvån

I can't help it, this remains my favorite month.
And where could there be a better place to enjoy it?
Storulvån is a pearl and the final weeks of the season offer delightful relaxation.

2006-08-26

wasting your money

Having the European Parliament commuting every month between Brussels and Strasbourg is ridiculous and costly. oneseat.eu is an initiative to end this disgraceful nonsense. Take a look and see if you agree.
others on eu strasbourg slöseri oneseat

2006-08-22

not quite like 1976…

To be honest, there is one significant difference between 1976 and 2006. The chemistry between the four center-right party leaders of today’s Alliance appears to be very good which is a stark contrast from 1976 when journalists even failed to bring the three leaders to a joint photo opportunity.

Imagine that: ”we won’t appear in the same picture but vote for us and we’ll run the country in close cooperation”. Yeah right.

Well, things have improved. Hägglund, Olofsson, Leijonborg and Reinfeldt appear to get along well and they’ll be needing that in the years to come. So it’s not entirely like 1976. But as far as politics and courage is concerned Reinfeldt still has a lot of convincing to do.

1976 all over again?

I can’t help but wonder.

1976 was the first time in post-war history when the Social Democrats were defeated in a national Swedish election. The center-right governments that followed managed to keep Olof Palme in opposition for six years. But they failed in many other respects. Yes, they did prove that the nation could indeed be ruled by someone else which actually was far from certain in the minds of many. But the coalitions fell apart and Sweden saw no less than four non-socialist governments during this period. Most notably the center-right parties failed to set a new course. True, they did inherit a collapsing economy but they in essence delivered more of the same big government, big spending politics of Palme.

In 1991 the center-right regained power. With an economy in turmoil and without a majority in the Riksdag they still had the clout to set a new course and give Sweden the new start they had promised. The voters punished them for economic hardships and the Bildt government was defeated in the next election but they did make a difference and today’s booming economy is a visible result.

Now, 2006. The center-right has a substantial chance of regaining power in the September 17 election. They could form a majority government and maybe, just maybe, they could be looking at a sound economy for the coming years. How would they use this opportunity? Which road would Fredrik Reinfeldt take? Has he got the courage to challenge the labor unions and big government? Or is it 1976 all over again, new faces and no vision? I wonder.

2006-08-21

the worst since 1914?

Former Prime Minister Carl Bildt speculates on the uphill battle for the Swedish Social Democrats.

At the moment, the opinion polls are giving the ruling Social Democrats 34-35% support. When they lost power in 1976 they achieved 42,7% and when they lost in 1991 they achieved 37,7% - so obviously, they are in a rather difficult situation.

As they had 39,9% in the 2002 election, it looks very likely indeed that Prime Minister Göran Persson will finish his political career with a rather substantial defeat for the party.

Full post here.

others on persson val2006 historia

2006-08-13

top ten Persson (3) the Statesman

Sweden is recognized internationally as a responsible partner. We’re at least on speaking terms with most countries. This hasn't always been the case.

Someone might argue that we’ve become boring. To some extent this is true and some are clearly unhappy. Gone are the heydays of Olof Palme who rarely missed an opportunity to flirt publicly with communists on various continents while at the same time pursuing a policy of secret partnership with NATO in defense matters. If that isn’t hypocrisy I don’t know what is.

Now Swedish-US relations are splendid and cooperation within The Union grows smoother every year with the Swedish Presidency in 2001 generally viewed as a success. Again, this is not exclusively due to the statesmanship of Göran Persson but a lot of progress has occurred on his watch and he has no doubt helped move Sweden from the fringes to a center position.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
2 ...
3 the Statesman
4 fiscal responsibility
5 building on Bildt
6 the Survivor
7 a Stockholm less congested
8 pro-Israel
9
environmental awareness
10 an international defence


others on persson top10persson politik sverige

2006-08-11

outstripped

  • radio listening is up
  • public service increases its dominance over commercial radio
  • sales of digital tuners have outstripped those of analogue radio

Wow, that’s great news! Sure is. Unfortunately, it’s not about Sweden. Remember this? We're talking about the UK. Incidentally they started DAB broadcasting at the same time, in 1995. What a difference a government makes.

others on radio dab media politik

2006-08-05

"brown hairy sick nurse"

SLAY Radio is an internet-based radio station, transmitting from Gothenburg (Göteborg) in Sweden and relaying to several other relays. Being a Swede who insists on writing in English now and then, I might as well provide a link to this tongue-in-cheek crash course in Swedish. You probably won’t learn a lot though.

Just listen here or (if you're a serious student) start reading at the beginning.

others on: språk kurs svenska swedish

2006-08-01

August in Norrköping

Funny really. After a long winter you'd think you could never appreciate darkness.
Come August and you're fed up with endless daylight.
There's a season for every taste. Go see.
Pinged to intressant.se
Other blogs on:

2006-07-31

being mapped

This web log has been registered in Stockholm at the blog map bloggkartan.se.

2006-07-27

"no Motherland without you"

Take a look at these images. It's not Germany in the 1930's. It's 2006 and they're supposed to be equipped with nukes already. If this isn't spooky I don't know what is.

2006-07-26

living with your neighbor

Israel has every right to defend its people and its borders from aggression. If the Palestinian Authority and the Lebanese Government are unwilling or unable (or both) to control their own territories Israel will have to do it for them.

Warfare is ugly business, civilians can and will come in harm’s way. This is especially true when the hostile militants such as Hamas and Hezbollah deliberately establish bases in residential areas. Israel must take every precaution possible to minimize collateral damage. Choosing to target government facilities in Gaza at night when they’re empty is an indication of how Israel tries to avoid casualties.

The current exchange of hostilities, regrettable as it is, is not yet a full scale war. Israel retains the capacity to flatten Gaza and Lebanon entirely and the militants currently testing Israel’s patience would be the first to notice if and when Israel decides to abandon its policy of restraint.

Still, you might not love your neighbor but you have to live with him. From that perspective this is a conflict without winners.

2006-07-21

top ten Persson (4) fiscal responsibility

The era of Göran Persson will be remembered as an era when public spending was brought under control.

Life used to be easy for the Social Democrats and in particular their finance ministers. Few if any Swedish politicians in recent years have been more overrated than Gunnar Sträng (Minister for Finance 1955-1976) who presided over a booming post-war economy and had but one solution to any budget challenge: raise taxes, always raise the taxes.

When Persson took control of the finances, much of the renovating groundwork and many painful decisions were already taken care of by the Bildt government. But interest rates had skyrocketed, the markets were suspicious about our fiscal discipline and raising taxes was generally not an option any longer in the global era of open, competing economies.

Throughout his years in government Göran Persson has maintained a procedure where the parliament stipulates in advance a ceiling on government expenditure. The discipline has been far from perfect. Instead of further cuts in spending the government has tried, year by year, to balance the budget through one-time efforts like selling state-owned companies or sometimes postponing expenditures from December to January. We haven’t reduced the foreign debt the way we should and we’re not prepared for the looming crisis where fewer Swedes in active years will have to take care of a growing number of elderly.

Still, interest rates bear witness to the fact that the markets have recognized the fiscal responsibility of the twelve-year Persson regime.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
3 ...
4 fiscal responsibility
5 building on Bildt
6 the Survivor
7 a Stockholm less congested
8 pro-Israel
9
environmental awareness
10 an international defence

2006-07-12

more whining than dining (2)

Here we go. Ten people in or near the Social Democratic leadership have been wining and dining for just over 3000 Euro. Lots of noise and turmoil, as could be predicted. And I can’t help but ask: why are we unable to debate how mismanagement of Stockholm and Sweden costs billions of Euro and at the same time so fascinated by details? A boat trip and a good dinner for 3000 Euro. Would that make headlines anywhere else in Europe?

2006-07-09

top ten Persson (5) building on Bildt

One of Göran Persson’s major contributions is actually what he did not do. Here are some topics of heated debate during the nineties...

The first day of sickness is a qualifying day ("karensdag"). The new pension system involves a modest portion ”premiepension” which is actually managed by the individual. Tax funding for schools is extended to scores of private schools. Various markets are deregulated.

These are all examples of what the right-wing Bildt government managed to introduce during its brief three year term while simultaneously facing a collapsing state economy and a major crisis in the financial sector.

The Social Democrats regained power in 1994 after three years of relentless criticism of the new course. Persson became finance minister and in 1996 prime minister. And what did he do about all of this? Basically nothing. Sweden in many respects stays the course of Bildt and Persson is harvesting the fruits.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
4 ...
5 building on Bildt
6 the Survivor
7 a Stockholm less congested
8 pro-Israel
9
environmental awareness
10 an international defence

2006-07-02

July in Katrineholm


Katrineholm Posted by Picasa

Parting shot before boarding X2000 again after a summer evening in Katrineholm. As a matter of fact, it did rain first but just for a while. I was lucky as always in 2004. Go see.

2006-06-25

pause and rewind

Did you think you’d seen the end of radio?

Think again.

This is awesome.

2006-06-22

on sharing and caring

We’re so modern these days, using all sorts of fancy technology. We don’t steal anymore, that’s so twentieth century. Oh, no. We share files. Doesn’t that sound at lot better?

2006-06-19

top ten Persson (6) the Survivor

Persson is a survivor.

You don’t have to love him. In fact, few people do. He stays on top anyway. Unlike his predecessors Palme (who was loved and hated wherever he went) and Carlsson (who rarely stirred any emotions) Persson is sort of “disliked but respected”.

And he does survive. I remember election night 1994 when former Moderate leader Bohman expressed deep worries that the nation could be facing all sorts of turmoil and hardship due to the socialist majority. I completely agreed with him. We were both completely wrong. Persson has managed to keep his odd informal red-green coalition together and unless the voters have him removed there is no internal party opposition capable of doing that.

Persson survives and stays as long as he pleases.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
5 ...
6 the Survivor
7 a Stockholm less congested
8 pro-Israel
9
environmental awareness
10 an international defence

2006-06-12

top ten Persson (7) a Stockholm less congested

At long last, finally something is being done to improve the traffic in and around Stockholm.

A road congestion tax has been introduced for a trial period. The political process leading up to this was flawed in almost every respect but the outcome is promising. The number of cars commuting into town has been reduced significantly. The upcoming referendum might well lead to the system being adopted permanently.

The two railway tracks built across Riddarholmen in the 19th century are still the only capacity available through central Stockholm. Period. This has been debated longer than anyone cares to remember. Now a decision has been taken to build a City Tunnel doubling the capacity of the railroads through the city.

Both these initiatives involved local politicians but they occurred on Göran Perssons watch and this was no coincidence. In fact, his government was directly involved in both issues. A Prime Minister passionate about the environment made a difference.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
6 ...
7 a Stockholm less congested
8 pro-Israel
9
environmental awareness
10 an international defence

2006-06-06

hooray?

We got ourselves an official national day last year. And here it is again: June 6. Hooray? Not really. Here’s why.

Leaving aside the fact that it’s rather unclear what historic event is associated with the official celebrations attempted today – to me it all boils down to the issue of nationalism. In a nutshell: do we or do we not need more flag-waving and singing of national anthems in this world? Here are some problems mankind is facing in the imminent future:

  • intolerance
  • wars
  • terrorism
  • pandemic
  • climate change

I fail to see how nationalism could help us on any of these issues. In fact, I’d argue that with less nationalism in this world we’d be doing a lot better on all of them.

So, are flag-waving Swedes intolerant war-mongers? Of course not. If you enjoy celebrating our national identity, by all means, bring on the party. I’d rather spend some time reading about the European constitution. That would be a major cause for celebration.

2006-06-05

top ten Persson (8) pro-Israel

Still looking for ten positive things to say about Persson.

One area where Göran Persson has chosen to change course is the conflicts always surrounding Israel. There is still a lot of leftist-activism in the party (and even in his government) advocating tolerance for terrorists and a one-eyed criticism against almost anything Israel does to defend itself. But those of us old enough to remember the heydays of Foreign Secretary Sten Andersson see a distinct difference. Sweden is clearly supporting the only established democracy in the region. The fact that Andersson has complained publicly about the new course is itself a good sign.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
7 ...
8 pro-Israel
9 environmental awareness
10 an international defence

2006-06-01

June in Härnösand


Härnösand Posted by Picasa

How should one spend those brief weeks of light and joy that we call June? Going north of course. Härnösand with the loveliest of Swedish cathedrals is not a bad choice. Go see.

2006-05-30

sad ending to May in Falsterbo

I celebrated the arrival of May by bringing back some memories from Falsterbo Strandbad. Before the month ended, this. A few hundred meters away, no more.

top ten with Persson (9) environmental awareness

The recent decades have made us aware that we cannot ignore our environment. Sustainable growth has to become a reality for mankind to survive and prosper. This won’t come about without pain so it will require bold leadership. We can argue about how to proceed and we can disagree on issues like nuclear power but I give Göran Persson credit for making the environment a top governmental priority and also for bringing the issues to Brussels through Swedish Environment Commissioner (now Commission Vice President) Wallström.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
8
9 environmental awareness
10 an international defence

2006-05-28

top ten Persson (10) an international defence

I aim to find ten positive things to say about the leadership of Göran Persson.

Sweden has had peace for centuries. Without trouble around our borders we could use our resources in conflicts abroad where international assistance is necessary. Sweden has a long tradition of supporting UN missions but under Göran Persson our forces are increasingly involved in multilateral efforts. This is a constructive engagement and our military badly need the exercise. It also helps integrate us into an international framework thus slowly preparing the ground for a joint European defense.

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson
9 ...
10 an international defence

2006-05-27

ten reasons to appreciate Göran Persson

So it’s election year again. Swedish campaigns are rather quiet events. Fewer scandals, less mudslinging, a more conciliatory tone. Still, there’s a lot of badmouthing these days. So here’s a challenge:

Find ten good things to say about your opponent!

Not trivial stuff like he’s got a nice shirt or supports the same football team. Politically relevant reasons to appreciate your opponent.

I’ve never voted for the Social Democrats and probably never will. So there’s my challenge and here I go. I made my top-ten list of positive things from a decade with Prime Minister Persson.

The countdown begins tomorrow.

2006-05-21

"no comment"

I’ll be disconnected from the blogosphere for a while and have therefore disabled commenting until I’m online again.

2006-05-20

where is Jeb?

US Presidents are rarely recruited from the Senate. Many senators have tried. Al Gore almost made it. But the dream is still alive with quite a few on Capitol Hill. Few believe that Hillary Clinton would be satisfied to top her career with a senatorship. Instead, speculations are increasingly focused around her and how she tries to reposition herself as a moderate just in time for the 2008 campaign.

My firm belief is that eight Clinton years are quite enough, thank you. But I can understand the tantalizing perspective of the Bush and Clinton families already maintaining control for two entire decades:

  • George Bush 1989-1993
  • Bill Clinton 1993-2001
  • George W Bush 2001-2009

Mona Charen cautions us to take Hillary seriously:

If Hillary Clinton is to be kept from the Oval Office, Republicans will need a game plan... Example: Hillary should not be permitted to keep silent on issues that may box her in. Her preferred tactic is to coast to the nomination without having to commit herself. Republicans should demand to hear her views on taxes, on the United Nations, on tort reform, on the Patriot Act, Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, in short, on every conceivable question that will bear on the 2008 race.

If senators rarely reach the Oval Office, governors frequently do.

Now, where is Jeb ?

2006-05-19

crystal walls all over again

I’ve always been fascinated by the stories of Ray Bradbury. Not the televised stuff – we’re talking books of course.

In a novel from 1951 Bradbury challenges our perception of kids' playrooms. With the help of images projected on large screens their imagination is amplified to a point where things… well… start happening.

And now I read on Wired that large projected images can keep kids engaged.

Better lock the door.

2006-05-16

"a useful bridge to even greener sources of energy"

An editorial in yesterday’s New York Times further underscores that the times are truly changing. Civilian nuclear power production – an industry which was almost brought to a standstill due to irrational fears and a nostalgic drive for a low-tech-society - is once again met with cautious interest:

There is good reason to give nuclear power a fresh look. It can diversify our sources of energy with a fuel - uranium - that is both abundant and inexpensive. More important, nuclear energy can replace fossil-fuel power plants for generating electricity, reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that contribute heavily to global warming.

Finland decided to revive its nuclear program a few years ago and is about to expand it further. How many years should Sweden waste before deciding to follow their example? Could we at least stop dismantling fully functional reactors and terminate the government of Göran Persson?

2006-05-15

back to the future in Ådalen

Ådalen in the middle of Sweden is a place of stunning beauty, negative growth and a bit of dark history.

The clash 75 years ago between striking workers and armed forces which cost the lives of five people is a shameful episode to be remembered. Still, we can be grateful to live in a country where this kind of oppression hasn’t occurred in almost a century and where the like is nowhere to be seen today.

The Social Democrats keep bringing up the events of Ådalen. Facing a new world with Latvian builders, a unified European defense structure and a looming showdown between freedom and oppression in the Muslim world looking back is natural for a party with no strategy for the present, much less the future. Still, if there are any intellectuals left in the party of Göran Persson they should be pretty embarrassed by now. Instead of offering a vision for the future, instead of showcasing their recent track record they insist on trying to invent an enemy who simply hasn’t been around for 75 years.

2006-05-14

inland challenge outline

Here are ten hints about my Inland Challenge.

Mariestad
Orsa
Östersund
Storuman
Jokkmokk
Karesuando
Gällivare
Sorsele
Strömsund
Noppikoski

Names like music to my ears... Now, what road could this be?

2006-05-13

140 g/km

Most of us are finally becoming aware of the urgent need to change our mode of transportation. Inefficient cars, propelled by fossil fuel and producing masses of CO2 are yesterday’s solution underscoring tomorrow’s climate urgency.

Autopia has a piece on the way forward.

According to the European Federation for Transport and Environment (as reported by EEMS), vehicles in the EU are supposed to reduce CO2 emissions to 140 g/km by 2008, but 2006 vehicles emit 160 g/km, down just one percent from the year before.

Link here.

2006-05-08

inland challenge

I just invented a new captivating travel project. If you know me you know it’s probably an entirely domestic tour and you’re so right. It's simply another part of my Swedish mega-excursion. I reckon it’d take three weeks and a considerable budget so it’ll have to wait for a while. We’re talking well over 4000 km of training behind the wheel on and around the Swedish version of Route 66. Identifying this particular road is left as an exercise for the reader!

2006-05-01

May in Falsterbo


Strandbadet, Falsterbo Posted by Picasa

Spring doesn't seem to be in any hurry this year but some things are simply worth waiting for. Go see.

2006-04-20

less green peace in the greenhouse

One of the co-founders of Greenpeace is reluctantly agreeing that nuclear power remains our best hope for cutting down emission of greenhouse gases. Carl Bildt comments on an interesting article.

"More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions -- or nearly 10 percent of global emissions -- of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely."

We have wasted so many years wishing that something ”better” would be available shortly. Meanwhile the global warming continues and accelerates.

2006-04-11

notizie difettose per l'Italia

Well, Silvio wouldn’t be Silvio if he just left silently without a fight and so far he hasn’t conceded defeat. It does appear though that the centre-left coalition of Romano Prodi has won the Italian election with a razor-thin margin.

Italian leftist coalitions are unstable by definition. This time the populous mandate is weak at a time when the young Italian nation is being challenged by stagnating growth as well as increasing domestic tension. Formally Prodi has won a five year term. I wouldn’t be surprised if we have turmoil within five months. So if he really wants this job, Silvio Berlusconi would be well-advised to stick around for a while.

2006-04-09

five more years?

So, Silvio is up for re-election and tomorrow we’ll know. He’s obviously not the kind of person you would embrace wholeheartedly. Too many arrogant statements over the years have partly undermined his credibility.

Still, I give him credit for providing a stable government coalition in Italy. That was something unheard of in a country which on average changed government once or twice per year. I give him credit for keeping the communists in the cold. The fact that the communist party has been considered one of the country’s leading forces has been a national shame for decades. And I give him credit for standing by the US on the Iraq issue. When most leaders on this continent went into hiding in 2003 or tried some populist pirouettes Silvio stood firm.

Berlusconi remains the best choice available as far as I’m concerned. We’ll soon find out what the Italian voters think.

2006-04-01

April in Lund


Domkyrkan, Lund Posted by Picasa

Not entirely unlike something from Star Wars, the Lund Cathedral is a colossal stony thing from just about any perspective. Not much beauty around but impressive for sure. Go see.

2006-03-29

large positive Arctic anomaly

It’s finally coming to an end, the coldest winter in Stockholm for decades. No extreme temperatures but we had snow more than three consecutive months which is unusual nowadays. And here comes the challenge. Will we be able to concentrate on the problem of global warming in spite of this recent fluctuation? The warmest years in recorded history have all occurred very recently. This climate threat won’t go away by itself or by wishful thinking.

2006-03-27

the exception

We got ourselves a new Minister for Foreign Affairs today. A career diplomat, currently President of the UN General Assembly. Once a personal advisor to Olof Palme, he’s been around for a while. A highly qualified candidate as far I can tell.

So why am I surprised? Why has it become unusual to have a minister who is actually qualified within his area of responsibility? Why does Jan Eliasson have to be the exception to the rule?

2006-03-24

the times they are a’changin’…

In a CNN ranking of the 10 most popular new cars in the US, Toyota takes six spots. Hottest among them all is the gas-electric hybrid Prius.

2006-03-20

hello Equinox

Tuesday morning (0314 CET) it’ll happen again. We in the northern hemisphere leave the darkness behind and enter the brighter half of the year. I’m not sure why I’m more dependant on daylight than I used to be. On Sunday we’ll even set our clocks for daylight savings time. Lots of good news this week! Could I ask for a slightly cooler summer as well? That’d be a real jackpot as far as I’m concerned.

Update: Apparently it's Monday March 20 at 19:26 CET. I should have finished that astronomy class...

Update #2: Hey!? That's today, half an hour ago. We're almost into summer already!

2006-03-18

still a fan

It’s that time of year again. Tonight in Stockholm Globe Arena – Melodifestivalen, the Swedish preselection for the Eurovision Song Contest. With its ups and downs, it has been a remarkable success. Name another fifty year old TV event that everyone (and I mean everyone) has an opinion about!

I used to follow EuroSong closely. Missing the event was unthinkable. Every year resulted in two additional video tapes in my collection, one for the Swedish preselection and one for the finals. Well, no more of that. I dislike some of the recent changes. I miss the orchestra; miss the days when the artists, backing vocals and orchestra were actually performing live. I think the lyrics in the Swedish competition should be just that – in Swedish. And all in all, I think the jury system gave us better songs than today’s phone voting. I guess I’m just getting older.

So I won’t be watching the spectacle tonight, might tune in to the radio coverage though. I’ll read all about it in my newspaper tomorrow and I’ll definitely buy the double CD with all 32 Swedish songs. The discs from last year are running non-stop in my car these days.

And there you have it. I’m still a fan. Like most of us. And I still think Martin Stenmarck should have won last year.

2006-03-15

wrong focus

Systembolaget, the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly, exists for one reason only: To minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without profit motive.

That’s the official tag line, at least.

So, are we debating the purpose of the Monopoly? Are we discussing how Systembolaget fulfills it purpose? Are we considering the leadership of Anitra Steen?

Of course not. We’re busy contemplating her future pension. Wrong focus. Again.

2006-03-12

what a difference a year makes

I don’t remember what made me write this one year ago. Maybe I was trying to pep myself up before leaving base camp for climbing my private Mt. Driving License.

Looking back it’s been a remarkable year. I returned to the University. I found a new job. I got my first car. No big deal? Well, in my life it is.

So what are you waiting for? Go make a difference in your life. Now when you can. Don't wait. Franz Schubert didn't.

2006-03-09

four or five glasses

Liberal spokesperson Karin Pilsäter is back at work after having been charged with drink driving. Is that right? Politicians are subject to entirely incompatible demands and expectations. On one hand they’re supposed to be just like any ordinary citizen, live the kind of life most of us live. On the other hand they should be role models. So whenever they fail in moral judgment some people start asking ”what signals does this send” and so on. You can’t win’em all. The voters should pass their judgment.

2006-02-26

7

Seven gold medals in Torino. Those of us, including yours truly, who argue that Sweden could do better certainly didn’t find any new arguments at the Winter Olympics. I wonder how long it’s going to take before PM Persson claims part of the victory...

2006-02-24

”enjoy your flight!”

Well, they actually said so.

I happened to take an airplane the other day. It’s not exactly an every-year experience but it does happen. Last time was in 2003. Before that, uhm… 1992.

I suppose it’s some kind of irony. Does anyone actually enjoy a flight?

Even if you’re totally uninterested in the environmental pollution and fuel gobbling, even if you’re not among those who are scared of taking off on wings of steel and even if you’re not in pain while landing (like most kids, some adults and me)… would anyone really enjoy sitting crammed between strangers in the most claustrophobic fashion?

I wouldn’t think so.

Flying is fast, surprisingly cheap and sometimes necessary. But it’s not enjoyable.

2006-02-18

more whining than dining

The whining about Göran Persson and his dining continues. Apparently the Prime Minister occasionally has a good meal in a better restaurant together with close aides. Why is this a problem? Is there any other country on the globe where a head of government is not trusted to make these kinds of decisions? The newspapers have dug up a receipt indicating that one of these parties contained Diet Coke as well as Espresso. Stunning luxury indeed.

His government spends billions of crowns on the most questionable ventures. Could our beloved journalists kindly focus their attention in that direction instead? I’ve had enough of this kind of nonsense journalism. Would our media be happy if Foreign Secretary Freivalds brings her own lunch box to the next government conference?

2006-02-13

Further comments on Sahlin

The debate on oil dependency and the Sahlin initiative continues months after my initial post.

2006-02-04

still kicking

One year later, still blogging.

I suppose the main reason for my per sistence :) is the fact that I had a slightly more realistic approach than some fellow bloggers. I certainly didn’t expect a rise to fame but I enjoy expressing myself in all sorts of formats and the web log is a convenient way of sharing a thought or maybe a picture. And I never accepted the idea that a blogger has to publish things on a daily basis whether she has anything to say or not. In my world, it’s better to wait until I’ve got something on my mind.

My thanks to those who haven’t given up on reading and a special thanks to those who commented. There haven’t been many comments. Unfortunately Blogger does not provide the reader with any hint about where in a blog some recent comment has appeared. So when there actually is a bit of dialogue a while after the initial post, like on the Sahlin topic (thanks Dave!) most readers will miss it unless I re-post or advertise in some other fashion.

Anyway, welcome to a second year of per spective.

2006-02-01

February in Östersund


Frösö Kyrka, Östersund Posted by Picasa

Frösön and particularly Frösö Kyrka is a lovely place. Magnificent surroundings, rich with history and culture. This February morning marked my first visit in 2004 and I would keep on returning there whenever I could during that remarkable year. Go see.

2006-01-24

to those who dare

I’m not a big fan of HSB. Still, my congratulations for completing Turning Torso in spite of all sorts of difficulties, particularly in terms of economy.
From a cold and windy day in Malmö two years ago, my tribute to those who dare do something different.

2006-01-14

an extraordinary world with different ingredients

One year ago the Huygens probe landed on Saturn’s moon Titan.

I’ve been fascinated by space exploration since I was a kid and to this day I’m amazed at the accomplishments of NASA. Navigating and controlling sophisticated equipment in an extremely hostile environment, at distances we cannot even imagine and without the slightest chance of servicing or fixing any hardware…

The touchdown on the surface of Titan marked the farthest a man-made spacecraft has successfully landed away from Earth.

Clear images of the surface of Titan were obtained below an altitude of 40 kilometers (25 miles) -- revealing an extraordinary world that resembled Earth in many respects, especially in meteorology, geomorphology and fluvial activity, but with different ingredients. The images show strong evidence for erosion due to liquid flows, possibly methane.

Cassini-Huygens press release here.

2006-01-11

further downhill with the Krona

The TCW-index was 129,37 this afternoon.

This Total Competitiveness Weights index is a tool for measuring the strength of the Swedish krona against a set of other currencies. Index 100 corresponds to Nov 18, 1992 when Sweden introduced a floating exchange rate. Index 129,37 means that the krona has lost almost 30% of its value. Most of this happened at the currency crisis in the fall of 1992. The index hit 120 early 1993. But it’s interesting that after all the proud proclamations about how our currency was supposed to recover it has continued further downhill another ten percent.

2006-01-09

a future less congested

The congestion charge is here. Just like in so many other major cities around the globe, driving into town during the most hectic hours of the week will cost money. And we’re all supposed to be upset, ready to throw out the politicians responsible.

Hold your horses! Congestion charges could prove an election (and referendum) winner for the red-green governing coalition.

Objectives of the Stockholm Trials are:

• Reduce traffic volumes on the busiest roads by 10-15%
• Improve the flow of traffic on streets and roads
• Reduce emissions of pollutants harmful to human health and of carbon dioxide
• Improve the urban environment as perceived by Stockholm residents
• Provide more resources for public transport

My guess is that the Trials will succeed in easing traffic jam. Congestion charges will become more accepted and even popular with those who live in the city. Mark my words: by September many critics will have fallen silent.

The Stockholm Trials have emerged through a disastrous political process. There are obvious flaws in the implementation. Yet, the idea of using good old market economy principles to put a price on a scarce resource remains our best hope for a future less congested.

2006-01-01

January in Göteborg

Saltholmen, Göteborg in January

As far out-of-season as you could possibly get but still somewhat adventurous. Strong gusts of wind at the icy and slippery quayside almost had me and my camera taking an entirely unplanned bath at Saltholmen on this cold January afternoon. Go see.

last chance...

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